Dougie Freedman full of praise for Birmingham City template
COPING with life outside the Premier League has been a rough ride for Wanderers – but Dougie Freedman believes Birmingham City boss Lee Clark is showing how it can be done.
Echoing Freedman’s own situation at the Reebok, Clark has overseen a massive overhaul of players to scale down the Blues’ wage budget since their relegation from the top flight in 2011.
At times last season it appeared the St Andrew’s men could be sucked into a relegation battle, but shoots of recovery have started to emerge in a young squad now among the Championship’s form teams.
Freedman, like Clark, has had to dispense with some of the household names in nearly 12 months at the club. On Tuesday night at Blackpool, some of the star names left on the bench suggested that the Wanderers boss may have to bruise more egos to get his side moving back in the right direction.
“It takes a long time to adjust,” said the Scot. “Of course, we’d all like to bounce back at the first opportunity but last year it wasn’t to be for us for a variety of reasons. You have to adjust again and make sure you have got players who can cope with the intensity of the Championship.
“Chung-Yong Lee, Chris Eagles and David Ngog were left out of the side the other night but there is no doubt that they have quality to unlock defences when we need them.
“Lee has had to deal with a lot of stuff from his higher earners – and the situation here is similar. I had to let players go last season because of the money situation.
“I heard this morning that Martin Petrov was playing Sunday League football. He was a wonderful player and a fantastic fella – but I needed to replace him with Robert Hall, someone who is just starting his career.
“There is a bit more of a youthfulness about us now. Players like Jay Spearing and Medo Kamara have come in and I think that can only be good for us in the longer term.”
Clark has loaned in the likes of Dan Burn from Fulham, Shane Ferguson from Newcastle United and Jesse Lingard from Manchester United to supplement his squad this season and after a slow start, has now seen his side win three of their last four games.
“I respect them hugely and I think Lee has done a great job there because he has had to handle pressure of balancing the books and letting players leave he’d probably liked to have kept hold of. He’s used the loan market well too,” Freedman noted.
“It’s about being consistent and trying to remain so through the season. Birmingham are showing signs that they can do that now.”